The Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee met Wednesday morning to discuss proposed legislation to raise the fee for littering at Dolores Park to $1000, but discovered that no one has been cited for littering in the park at the current fee of $200 in the past year.
“They are not enforcing their own rules,” said Alex Albridge, a member of the public.
So, the first step, the committee seemed to agree, would be to issue littering citations at the $200 level.
Earlier District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy, who sponsored the legislation, argued that the increased fee would act as a better deterrent to littering and would reduce the amount of time park gardeners spend picking up trash, but he was unaware until the hearing that no citations had been introduced.
“It’s a little bit about the carrot and a little bit about the stick and so far, we haven’t even been tapping the stick,” said District 1 Supervisor Sandra Lee Fewer.
Robert Brust, a member of Dolores Park Works, which has been trying to clean up the park since 2009, agreed. “We need to empower the park rangers to issue citations,” he said.
Mission District Supervisor Hillary Ronen suggested another deterrent – requiring those who litter to clean up the park.
What is clear is that some deterrent to littering is needed.
“There is still an enormous amount of garbage discarded throughout the park,” said Dennis Kern, the director of operations at San Francisco Recreation and Park Department.
Kern said that increasing the fee would make a difference because “the status quo is not working.” Sheehy added that the current fee is not working because most of the litterers in Dolores are wealthy and therefore a $200 fine is not a deterrent.
But Robert Nevoa, a member of the public, said, “We need to start tapping that stick starting at $200 or $250.”
The committee concluded that until the existing $200 fee is enforced it is pointless to raise fees so the matter will be discussed again by the committee on September 13.
In the meantime, attendees hope that the littering issue at Dolores will be addressed as a community process, but some were doubtful.
“There is no community process,” said Albridge.